Uchi Uchibeke, Software Engineer and Blockchain Developer

Blockchain technologies promise new economic, business, and technological models that will change the world. In this interview, we speak with Uchi Uchibeke, a Software Engineer and Blockchain Developer about the Blockchain industry and the opportunities in this emerging field.

STEMHub Foundation: Studying Computer Science can lead to multiple career paths. What motivated you to choose Blockchain as an area of expertise?

Uchi: In 2016, I attended a Blockchain meetup in Toronto and was amazed by the potential that Blockchain offered. The more I learned about Blockchain, the more I realized how powerful the technology is. My experience working as a Blockchain Developer at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) solidified my interest in the field. After RBC, I have gone on to help an Alberta-based company develop the blockchain component of their health-tech solution, filed a patent with my team, and published a Blockchain IEEE paper.

STEMHub Foundation: The 4th Industrial Revolution coupled with Digitization is changing the way we engage, conduct businesses and manufacture. Can you briefly educate us about how blockchain is helping to decentralize the financial industry with Bitcoin as a case study?

Uchi: It is envisioned that the 4th Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 will have the greatest impact in terms of scale and velocity. Internet-connected devices will work together to share data and provide insights to users. Digitization in manufacturing enables real-time communication between different parts of a machine. IoT devices in these machines provide real-time status and diagnosis updates to monitoring stations.

With Bitcoin, I envision that blockchain, the technology that powers bitcoin will change the way we do business and transform many industries into truly digitally-enabled ones. The impact of the shift will be tremendous and will result in the removal of intermediaries in the banking, brokerage, mortgage, and insurance industries, to name a few. Canadian and other banks are exploring ways to reduce back-office processes or make them more efficient. Some financial institutions have built proof of concepts that enable a customer to have a self-sovereign identity, full control of their information. This is an exciting and inevitable future.

Blockchain, the technology that powers bitcoin, will change the way we do business and transform many industries into truly digitally-enabled ones. The impact of the shift will result in the removal of intermediaries in the banking, brokerage, mortgage, and insurance industries, to name a few.

Canadian and other banks are exploring ways to reduce back-office processes or make them more efficient. Some financial institutions have built proof of concepts that enable a customer to have a self-sovereign identity and full control of their information. This is an exciting and inevitable future.

STEMHub Foundation: How can we leverage blockchain in different industries?

Uchi: The technology behind blockchain provides a solution to the challenges associated with traditional and centralized systems. It ensures data transparency and traceability, audibility and data self-sovereignty. Processes in the banking, brokerage, mortgage, and insurance industries that have multiple intermediaries will benefit from blockchain because blockchain will enable transparency among the intermediaries. A company like Facebook can also benefit from using blockchain for enabling peer to peer financial transaction and exchange.

STEMHub Foundation: Share with us how you use blockchain at your company-LushPlans?

Uchi: With Lush Plans, we used Data mining and machine learning for things like Vendor onboarding, validating, rank, recommendation, and auditing. We mine millions of social media posts, extract vendors information, rank vendors using some propriety criteria we developed and then recommend them to weddings with our recommendation system.

STEMHub Foundation: We know about your passion for giving back and STEMHub Foundation is very proud to be a supporter of NaijaHacks. What was the reason for founding Naijahacks and what are some of the activities we should expect this year?

Uchi: When I was a student, I participated in Hackathons at Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Waterloo and many more. Participating and winning at these Hackathons shaped my career. I was able to work with and compete with some of the smartest and brightest minds in the world. I also met some of the top companies in the world. Because of the impact that Hackathons had on me and in my career, I was inspired to bring a similar experience to young Nigerians.  I started NaijaHacks to inspire a new generation of Nigerian innovators who use technology to create solutions for their communities and for the world.

STEMHub Foundation: Can you share specific details about the different paths that a computer scientist can major in?

Uchi: A computer science degree opens doors to many opportunities. Some areas I am excited about are DevOps Engineer, User Experience Developer, Security Engineer, Blockchain Developer, and Data Scientist. In the future, because privacy and transparency will be important and devices will be connected together, specializing in Security or Cryptography will be a wise move. Additionally, combining computer science with art or psychology will also be a wise move.

STEMHub Foundation: What was a day in the life of Uchi as a software developer at Shopify like?

Uchi: For me, every day was a new day with new challenges. Projects I worked on include implementing user interfaces that have been designed by UX designers, implementing APIs, reviewing and providing feedback on the code of other developers and pairing with coworkers to come up with a solution to a technical challenge

After I get back, I sometimes have meetings so I attend them and do some more work. At around 4:00 p.m., I check my plan for the day to evaluate how I have done. I left work between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

STEMHub Foundation: For early career computer scientists or experienced engineers considering exploring blockchain to expand their portfolio, what skill sets or certifications are in high demand in your field today?

Uchi: It depends on how deep they want to go with Blockchain. If they are looking to be Blockchain Developers that develop applications that combine existing blockchain tools and frameworks, it will be sufficient to learn the specific tools of frameworks required for the job. With a computer science degree, they should be able to pick up languages, tools, and frameworks fairly easily.

For those looking to go deep into the blockchain field, I will recommend learning the basics of Cryptography and Networking. This will enable them to build the core components that the first group of Blockchain developers will build with.

STEMHub Foundation: Where do you see your industry heading towards and what are the potential jobs of the future in your industry?

Uchi: With the advent of Artificial Intelligence, some jobs might be lost in the tech industry. While there will be some losses, there will also be some gains in other areas. Some areas of growth will be in roles like Security Engineer, Virtual Reality Experience Designer, Virtual Reality Developer, Distributed Systems Developer, Data Scientist, AI specialist, Privacy Consultant, Chief Diversity Officer, and Blockchain Developer.

STEMHub Foundation: Most people who start a career have a mentor or a role model. Did you have a mentor or role model?  If yes, how did this help your career? If no, how did that affect your decision-making process?

Uchi: Yes. I do have a mentor. My mentor, Levi, helped me navigate most of the decisions I made. When I struggled with deciding between multiple offers or about what to focus on next, it was always great to share that with him and get his insights. When I wanted to make the decision to join RBC as a Blockchain Developer, he helped me understand the importance of taking calculated risks that are best for me and my career even if they might be uncomfortable.

STEMHub Foundation: Are you working on any application that you would like to share with our audience?

Uchi: Yes. I am currently working on a Crowdlending and Financial empowerment platform. I am super excited about it and the potential it has for Africa. We will be sharing more details in the coming months.

Uchi Uchibeke is a Tech and Business Leader focusing on Blockchain Software Development and Research, and Fullstack Development and redefining the African Events Industry. He is also the founder of NaijaHacks, Nigeria’s biggest hackathon and a US and Canada patent inventor.

You can reach him on Instagram @iamkinguchi or Facebook  Uchi Nick Uchibeke

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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